Thursday, August 27, 2009

Andrew's Weekly Video Game Musings

Hello everybody!
Since I have become a little more pro-active on the video gaming scene, I decided I'd make a sister-blog for the blog you're reading now. It's called "Andrew's Weekly Video Game Musings", and here I'll be talking and reviewing... well, you know how this sentence ends (you do know, don't you?)
Check it out here, and whilst you're at it, why don't you follow it?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hiroshi Inagaki's "Samurai Trilogy", and "Star Wars, The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance"

Whilst on holiday here in the Catskills, I was fortunate enough to find that the married couple who live in the house have a large collection of classic movies on VHS. Among them were "It's A Wonderful Life", "Best Years Of Our Lives", "Malcolm X", and "Scream", but by far the most unusual movies I found were in a box set and simply titled "The Samurai Trilogy". I've known about these films, but had never seen them. I thought I'd watch them.
The first in the series is named "Musashi Miyamoto", and is about how the brutal peasant Tazeko transforms into a graceful, elegant, and genteel man. He states his dreams about becoming a legendary samurai, and at the end of the film, ventures to complete the rest of his training. After watching the film, I could not help but think and wonder about Toshiro Mifune's heart stopping performances. He delivers such emotion in the role of Tazeko. Others may know him from his collaborations with Akira Kurowsawa, namely "Seven Samurai" and "Throne Of Blood".
The second in the series, "Duel At Ichijoji Temple", is about how Musashi Miyamoto finishes his samurai training, but learns that a samurai must have compassion against his enemies. This film also introduces his life-long nemesis, Hiroji Saseko, another legendary samurai. The film features a brilliant and grueling fight against 80 evil ninjas. Whilst the film slightly failed with character development, the film more than makes up for it with brilliant photography and action packed sword fights. I'd say it was as good as the original.
The third film in the series, "Duel At Ganryu Island", is about Miyamoto's final showdown with Saseko, and is the most emotional and violent of the series. This last film has it all: tragedy, romance, gory sword fights, and, of course, another legendary performance from Toshiro Mifune.
The entire series makes up a brilliant whole, and is a rare experience that nobody should miss. Even if you don't expect character development, there is plenty here. Although I am not familiar with Japanese films, and did not have any previous expectations, all these films will be in your top 10 if you ever watch them.
Other than that, I've been reading and harbouring a love for Star Wars. I've just bought a Nintendo DS exclusive video game named "Star Wars, The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance". It is a brilliant video game, and another experience that should not be missed. All the action takes place with the stylus, so there's no more button mashing in this video game. You can play as Anakin Skywalker, Ashoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Plo Koon, and Kit Fisto. For me, the highlight of the video game are the spectacular "Jedi Action Sequences". I won't tell you anything about them, you'll have to play it. And, surprisingly for a video game, there is plenty of video to advance the story. If you will, it makes it's own movie with these videos, and they are all fun to watch.
So, what have you been doing? I bet you couldn't write an entry as long as this!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Greg Mortenson's and David Oliver Relin's "Three Cups Of Tea"

How many of you fellow readers consider yourself charitable? Perhaps you've donated money in the past, went to an Oxfam shop and bought something, or perhaps even lent a pencil to someone in class or at work? Well, prepare to meet one of today's greatest humanitarians- Greg Mortenson.
Some of you may already know the name through the news media, but, if you do know his name, you will probably know it from a no. 1 New York Times Bestseller, "Three Cups of Tea". The book details the turbulant life of Greg Mortenson, starting from early 1993 to 2003. Greg Mortenson, in 1993, attempted to climb the worlds highest peak, K2, to honor his sister's memory, who had recently died of an epileptic fit. He fails, and wanders into a small village in the Karakoram (the mountainous regions of Pakistan) named Korphe. He was inspired by the uneducated children living there to build a school for them.
What started as one school has so far climbed to over sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where children can get a non-extremist schooling that has propelled them to greater heights than anybody could ever have guessed.
If you'd like to make a donation, visit, the homepage of Mortenson's company, Central Asian Institute. If you'd like to find out more about Mortenson's work, I'd suggest reading his book "Three Cups Of Tea", as it is not only informative, but is a great read and a life-altering experience as well.